Treatment for peripheral arterial disease (PAD) focuses on reducing symptoms and preventing further progression of the disease. Treatment is based on your signs and symptoms, risk factors, and the results of physical exams and tests. In most cases, lifestyle changes, exercise and claudication medications are enough to slow the progression or even reverse the symptoms of PAD. Treatment may slow or stop the progression of the disease and reduce the risk of complications. Without treatment, PAD may result in serious tissue damage, severe leg pain, amputation, and even death.
Manage your diabetes
Eat a healthy diet
Get regular exercise
- Cholesterol-lowering medications. You may take a cholesterol-lowering drug called a statin to reduce your risk of heart attack and stroke.
The goal for people who have peripheral artery disease is to reduce low-density lipoprotein (LDL) cholesterol, the “bad” cholesterol, to less than 100 milligrams per deciliter (mg/dL), or 2.6 millimoles per liter (mmol/L). The goal is even lower if you have additional major risk factors for heart attack and stroke, especially diabetes or continued smoking.
- High blood pressure medications. If you also have high blood pressure, your doctor may prescribe medications to lower it.
The goal of this therapy is to reduce your systolic blood pressure (the top number of the two numbers) to 140 millimeters of mercury (mm Hg) or lower and your diastolic blood pressure (the bottom number) to 90 mm Hg or lower. If you have diabetes, your blood pressure target is under 130/80 mm Hg.
- Medication to control blood sugar. If you also have diabetes, it becomes even more important to control your blood sugar (glucose) levels. Talk with your doctor about what your blood sugar goals are and what steps you need to take to achieve these goals.
- Medications to prevent blood clots. Because peripheral artery disease is related to reduced blood flow to your limbs, it’s important to improve that flow.
Your doctor may prescribe daily aspirin therapy or another medication, such as clopidogrel (Plavix).
- Symptom-relief medications. The drug cilostazol (Pletal) increases blood flow to the limbs both by keeping the blood thin and by widening the blood vessels. It specifically helps treat symptoms of claudication, such as leg pain, for people who have peripheral artery disease. Common side effects of this medication include headache and diarrhea.
An alternative to cilostazol is pentoxifylline (Trental); however, it’s generally less effective. But side effects are rare with this medication.
If your PAD worsens, your doctor might recommend:
– a minimally invasive procedure where a balloon is inflated inside a blocked artery to restore blood flow.
– a minimally invasive procedure where a tiny tube is placed in the artery to keep it open.
– is a minimally invasive endovascular surgery technique for removing atherosclerosis from blood vessels within the body.
– a surgical procedure that uses a blood vessel or synthetic tube to bypass blockages in the artery.